Is China’s leadership competent?
But such praise of new bureaucratic mechanisms misses a critical point. The price of institutionalized Communist Party decisionmaking has been the diminution of the organization’s ability to govern. Why? China’s system is now weeding out the Mao Zedongs and even the Deng Xiaopings in order to prevent the rise of charismatic leaders, particularly someone like a Chinese Gorbachev. The individuals surviving this vetting, not surprisingly, lack the dynamism and ability of their bloodthirsty but imaginative predecessors. As the current leadership works to keep the lid on, small problems grow into big ones and big ones become gigantic. None of these problems has threatened the existence of the regime because increases in economic output in recent years have masked dislocations. But as the economy begins to contract, these problems may become too big to ignore—and perhaps too big to solve.